Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Imperial Steam Tank - the digging continues

Imperial Steam Tank
 Illustrated story from Inferno! magazine.
©Games Workshop

One of my longest standing clients is Games Workshop. In 1997 The Black Library had not been long spawned and one of it's first creations was Inferno! magazine - a mix of comic strips, short stories and illustrated features. My first commission with GW was for issue #1; an illustrated story collaboration with Jonathan Greene. He provided the words and I the detailed linework that accompanied them. We worked on a number of these pieces together before Jonathan concentrated on the straight prose of his novels, and I began to undertake the writing.

25 x 32 cm. Technical Pen, Ink, acrylic on Bristol Board.

We have just exchanged emails, and I was prompted to look through some of the back catalogue. The Imperial Steam Tank was one of my earliest solo projects, and also one of the shortest, but I enjoy it's nostalgia value, and it reveals my roots.

I was keen to incorporate the text into the illustration as much as possible. That wasn't always possible, but this was a prime example where I got to run riot. Looking back I appreciate how much freedom I had to create with these pieces. I proposed the idea, and was then left to run with it.

The Battle of Nis-Pazar.
48 x 36 cm. © Games Workshop

The subjects also allowed for a wide variety of approaches. The humorous pseuod-technicality of the Steam Tank would be followed by a 'where's Wally?' battle scene like Nis-Pazar or the Military History approach of 'preparing Steel Storm'. It was a great learning experience that I value even more fully now.

Preparing 'Steel Storm'; Battle of Bhavangar.
52 x 27 cm. © Games Workshop.

 Check out Jonathan Greene's Blog, he's on his eleventh novel and lots more besides.


  1. That is very cool! I especially like the last painting, it's almost like something from the Osprey books!

  2. Thanks Jan. The Tank piece was inspired by those sorts of titles, and all the illustrated history books I had as a kid :)

  3. Brilliant Ralph !! Wow.. The sketches remind me of Wm.Heath Robinson a bit..

  4. That's really cool Ralph, especially the tank. It's rather interesting to see the style and direction of Games Workshop stuff over the years... I don't want to say the early stuff was..bad exactly, but there is certainly a strong change in the look recently.
    Ps I've always wanted to submit stuff to them, but wasn't sure who/how to contact them, ie do they have an art drop, or is it just a matter of sending a portfolio to the Design office in England-land?

  5. Thanks Tommi. The vast majority of Games Workshop's artwork is created in-house. The only freelance work available is through the Black Library. Currently they produce a range of novels and commission cover artwork for the same. There is no 'artdrop' as such, so yes, a general submission would be in order.

  6. Thanks Ralph!
    Cheers from the colonies.


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